SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Faced with a three-goal deficit and the
boos of their loyal fans, the San Jose Sharks somehow found the
motivation for a surprising comeback.
After Ryan Smyth scored two of Edmonton's three power-play goals
in the first two periods, the Sharks rebounded from terrible play
on special teams and defense to pound Tommy Salo with 20 shots in
the third period and four more in overtime.
The final 25 minutes were a remarkable change for the Sharks,
who are 2-2-2 on an eight-game homestand that hasn't cured their
season of mediocre play. They thought they had shaken off their
struggles until Dallas and Colorado pounded them in consecutive
games last week, but the tie restored a measure of confidence.
''That's how our team used to play,'' captain Owen Nolan said.
''It was such a positive thing to battle back. It reminded us of
what we can do. It felt like the Sharks of old -- scoring goals,
getting in the scrums, getting motivated.''
Scott Thornton started it with a goal in the Sharks' wildest
home game this season. The teams combined for 78 shots and had
Meanwhile, the Oilers reached the midway point of their season
by losing a huge lead -- another episode in their season-long
struggles. In addition, Edmonton lost center Mike Comrie to a
broken thumb that could keep him out for weeks.
''This problem is hanging over the team like a dark cloud,''
coach Craig MacTavish said of the Oilers' finishing problems. ''We
made bad decisions, bad executions. We're out of sync, and we can't
protect a lead.''
At least Salo prevented another overtime defeat, stopping Marco
Sturm on a clean breakaway with 1:20 left. But it wasn't over until
Evgeni Nabokov stopped two outstanding scoring chances in the final
Todd Marchant, Shawn Horcoff and Mike York also scored for the
Oilers, who extended their winless road skid to six games with
terrible defensive play in the third. Edmonton is 1-5-4 in its last
10 meetings with San Jose.
''We're losing concentration out there, every time we get the
lead,'' Smyth said. ''We need to hold our leads. I have no idea why
this is happening to us, but you have to give them credit for
San Jose's Todd Harvey snapped a drought of 23 games without a
goal, and Scott Hannan got his first goal in 39 games this season.
Thornton scored midway through the second period, and he pounded
rookie Alexei Semenov in a brutally one-sided fight that appeared
to spark the Sharks late in the second period.
''After that fight, we really got together on the bench and
rallied together in the dressing room,'' Thornton said. ''We had a
feeling that things would keep getting better for us.''
It was ugly early, however. The Sharks, the NHL's worst penalty
killers, allowed three more power-play goals, and the Shark Tank
crowd actually booed after a series of defensive lapses in the
But after Thornton got things started, the fans and the Sharks
were energized by McGillis, a veteran former Oilers defenseman
acquired from Philadelphia last month.
McGillis charged the net and scored midway through the third
period to snap San Jose's 0-for-26 power-play slump and pull the
Sharks to a goal down. Less than six minutes later, McGillis
followed his own slap shot with a wrist shot through traffic.
McGillis had just one prior goal all season with the Flyers and
The Sharks kept the pressure on up to the final moments. Patrick
Marleau clanged a one-timer off the post with 10 seconds left in
regulation, and Teemu Selanne had one of several good chances in
''I haven't been here all year, but I'd say this game was a
microcosm of the whole season,'' coach Ron Wilson said. ''Hopefully
we can use this as a rallying point. We won the scraps, and we
never stopped hammering away.''
McGillis' only other two-goal game came against Washington
on Jan. 26, 1997, when he was with Edmonton. ... The Sharks played
without defenseman Brad Stuart, who was placed on injured reserve with a
sore right ankle. ... Horcoff has scored just two goals since Nov.
21. ... The Sharks have allowed six power-play goals on just nine
chances in their last three games.